..a short story from a puke-laden sheet of lined paper
Nov. 25th, 2008: Heathrow Airport, London
Alright, I’ve found out what fresh hell really is. Are you ready? You put a diagnosed insomniac in Heathrow Airport at 1:30 a.m. with no medication and make damn sure that his plane doesn’t leave until 3:30 p.m. the next afternoon. Its emergency-room white in here and the people lying about look sicker than any I’ve seen at a hospital.
I’ve been you. I’ve judged people here. What I want you to know is that on your next trip to the airport, you might see someone curled up next to a plastic potted plant with luggage fashioned into some terrible sleeping apparatus, and you might judge that person. You’ll probably think, “Wow, nobody gives a fuck about that guy,” or ask yourself, “What type of true fuck up do you have to be to be trying to sleep like that in public?”
Well, you know what? On your second trip to the airport, you might be that fuck up looking for that bit of shade a potted plant provides. You might find yourself thinking, “Should I sleep on the rock hard ground, the rock hard benches, or on top of all my belongings?”
You might hear one of your fellow international middle-class refugees barking a foreign language into a phone and understand every word. You might know that that Haitian guy lying on his "Member’s Only" jacket is saying, “Yea! I’m in the airport at 2:00 a.m. and it fucking sucks!”
You know why you might know all of this? Because I know all of this right now.
I’ve played about 14 shows in the last 10 days throughout the U.K., showered about three times, drank an ocean of alcohol, and now I’m trying to sleep on my band’s dirty laundry and equipment wondering if the creep with one carry-on is going to steal my awful Nikes.
This is where the busy come to die.
As their heart fails next to a Krispy Kreme, the other people look up at monitors for flight times, check their watches, or yell at their kids. The hopeful walk around as if a king-sized mattress and feathery pillow lay clean and inviting right around the next departure gate. Some people come prepared with sleeping mats, bags, or blankets, but people like you and me, we don’t expect to be in this situation.
The creep near me, I don’t think he’s eyeing my shoes. I think he’s hoping I’ll fall asleep so he can mess around with my smelly body. There are couples jerking asleep in each other’s arms. As the woman instinctively reaches to scratch her nose, her boyfriend pulls her closer. The scene is so damn sweet that I hope my plane goes down.
Some days, you just look at the people around you and realize that you’re just another mutated lifer out on a weekend pass. Some other days, you see some Asian guy’s ass as he fumbles for a cup of tap water, with his hat protecting his eyes from the scorching lights of Heathrow’s innards. Some days, you don’t have a towel to throw in.
My bed’s shuffling around while I write. I’m going to put my shoes on, go brush my teeth, and maybe visit the airport’s nearby “Prayer Room” and hope for sleep. I’ll let you know when the Air Canada gates open -- or an airport bar. I need to put this journal in my bag and finish the bed building process. That’s right -- I’m going to try to sleep on what you’re reading.